Work to Rule

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This isn’t altogether my own. In fact, it’s shamelessly plagiarised from somewhere or other with a bit of my own creative editing to bring it up to date. To the individual who first produced it in an obviously gin-sodden haze, I raise a metaphorical ‘l’chaim’ to you.

From a pillar of British journalism. The facts on the ground.

“The unrest began last Tuesday when Hamas announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber or other mujahid would receive after his death will be cut by 25% after Eid, from 72 to 54. The rationale for the cut was the increase in recent months of the number of  battlefield casualties whose sacrifice falls into the ‘martyrdom’ category and a subsequent shortage of virgins in the afterlife. Other terrorist groups followed suit, including ISIL and Hizbullah. The subsequent demonstrations stopped short of burning Palestinian flags, so a few Israeli ones were burnt instead.

The suicide bombers’ union, the British Organization of Occupational Martyrs (or B.O.O.M.) responded with a statement that this was unacceptable to its members and immediately balloted for strike action. General Secretary Anjem Choudary (no relation) told the Press: ‘Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of jihad. We don’t ask for much in return but to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth.’

Speaking from his five-bedroomed house paid for with jizya from the British taxpayer, he explained: ‘We sympathise with our workers’ concerns but we are not in a position to meet their demands. They are not accepting the realities of modern-day jihad in a competitive marketplace.’

‘Thanks to Western depravity, especially in London, there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It’s a straight choice between reducing expenditure and laying people off. I don’t like cutting wages but I’d hate to have to tell several thousand of my staff that they won’t be able to blow themselves up.’ Spokespersons for the union in the Northeast of England, the city of Aberdeen, the whole of Ireland, Wales and the entire Australian continent stated that the strike would not affect their operations as “..there are no virgins in our areas anyway”.

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Over the last month, there have been disturbances, let’s say, in the Middle East. These disturbances are not small regional ripples, soon forgotten as the world finds other things to talk about.
As everyone knows, I have just returned from Jerusalem – in fact, about a week before I left – three boys were kidnapped. A  friend said that she thought they were dead. I didn’t believe her and I was wrong. Shortly after, a deranged man murdered and set fire to an Arab boy, and Operation Protective Edge began.
A caliphate has been declared in what was eastern Syria and northern Iraq by an organisation whose thirst for blood and conquest outmatches anything the world has seen for a generation and is reminiscent of the early struggle for Islamic identity in the seventh century.
Millions of words have been written, hundreds of pundits have given us the benefit of their opinions on social media, blogs, TV and radio. Journalistic integrity has been compromised. Foreign politicians have thrown the weight of their country’s moral outrage at either camp, for or against. What can I possibly add to an already overinflated debate?

For what it is worth, then, and in no particular order, this is what I have learned.

Rhetoric, both for and against, has been more savage and intemperate than at almost any time in my living memory. 

Many people believe that holding pro-Zionist opinions is tantamount to selling your soul to Beelzebub.

Anti-Semitism, defined as unreasoning hatred of Jews just because they are Jewish is alive and well, and the demonic forces that drive it are becoming bolder. Capitals all over the world saw and continue to see well-funded and well-organised “protests” which for the most part are thinly veiled excuses for fomenting anarchy and disorder as disparate and disaffected social groups find a common cause against which they can mobilise. If the protesters actually got what they wanted, Israel would cease to exist.

It is dangerous to be openly Jewish in some places in Europe. It is quite reasonable for Muslim enclaves in European towns and cities to fly the Palestinian flag, since offending Muslims cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

History means whatever you want it to mean and nobody is bothering to read it. Hence, words like ‘occupation’ have gained undeserved currency, since manipulation of the masses isn’t particularly difficult and the volume of opinion so fuelled lends the same distorted legitimacy that Goebbels used to such great effect in the 1930’s regardless of right or wrong. “Let me control the media and I will turn any nation into a herd of pigs”, he wrote.

Trading land for peace won’t work. It didn’t work in 2005 and the Israelis have long memories.

A belief in evil is a subjective matter. The entity known as Hamas is simply evil undiluted. As a political machine, it rides, rough-shod, over those who brought it to power. Its supporters use public money to build tunnels instead of roads, use public buildings to wage war and it deliberately places civilians in harm’s way, using them as human shields, with no apparent regard for their safety, hiding behind a flawed interpretation of their holy book. They have told the world, loud and clear, that Gazan lives are cheap.

Israelis can and will continue to protect their population. This means that she will be charged with war crimes, the adjudication for which will be in the hands of those who wish her destruction.

Militant Islam suffers no bedfellows. It murders, tortures and sweeps from its path all those who dare to hold any opinion or practice any faith other than its own.

Th events of the last month or so have caused a profound paradigm shift in me, and I understand, in others. Please don’t bother commenting – share your outrage elsewhere in places where it may be more widely read. 

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, perhaps it is the end of the beginning.

Clamour and Infamy

There’s a conference in town today. Well, not exactly ‘in town’, more in the suburbs. Bethlehem, to be precise. Beyond the wall where the cabbies can’t go. It’s going to be quite an event, this third “Christ at the Checkpoint”. Several days of conference, keynote speakers to include a prominent Muslim human rights activist, an influential author, several pastors from a variety of denominations, the president of Bethlehem Bible College and many and various luminaries within the Arab Christian community and beyond.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced “Christ at the Checkpoint”  in no uncertain terms…
“The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.”
While it is true that at first glance, the Arab Christian minority has tended to draw the short straw in the political and spiritual street fight that passes for attempts at reconciliation here, the strength of the Establishment response is extraordinary. The subtext, smoothly oiled over with a veneer of spirituality is rather uglier, since it has drawn such pointed criticism from the authorities. There are varieties of opinion, it would appear, and as long as the principal tenets are adhered to, most notably, outspoken support for the concept of  “occupation”, participants can attend seminars, visit a checkpoint early in the morning to see for themselves how security is maintained and discuss with like minds. The hated face of Zionism (a minority view amongst many haredi sects) is not condemned outright, merely included in a litany of other unjust and unconstitutional practices. BDS is probably not far below the surface. The words of one of the organisers, Sami Awad, virtuous as they may be, earnest and passionate, carry with them a subtext which many find difficult to digest, namely, the Arab desire to share the rights of homeland in denial of responsibilities to it. He writes “For anything to move forward in the Holy Land, a relationship of trust and respect must be established  between the peoples. Peace is not just negotiated settlements between politicians. Peace is the process of building trust and respect… To be able to see each other with new eyes…understand who the ‘other’ is…appreciate their culture, heritage, the narrative that they bring to the table…
Superficially, what a worthy objective, but what sacrifice must be made, what concessions made to orthodoxy and truth in order to achieve it? Powerful theological weight is brought to bear to lend support to both hard and soft supersessionism, from hard-line Lutheran dogma that the New Covenant replaces the Old in its entirety, in other words, God had had enough of the Children of Israel in the first century and transferred all Covenant promises to followers of Yeshua Ha-Maschiach to a softer but no less pernicious doctrine that the Church has been unilaterally entrusted with the fulfilment of the promises of which Jewish Israel is the trustee.

This is all very fine, but why are dissenting voices suppressed? I cannot help but feel that this is no genuine fellowship, no Kingdom building, no real rapprochement as the pre-conference literature proclaims; instead a wolf, cunningly disguised as an inoffensive sheep which is cynical at best and propagandist at worst. I’d dearly love to nod vigorously with the peaceniks, but I fear on this occasion, I really can’t.